I'm pretty sure there are BMX trails out there that have been around since 1989 and are still running. I'm not sure if there are trails that have seen 2 jams a year annually. We can blame Covid for not having a jam at the Sugar Hills Trails in Aarle-Rixtel but the pandemic has next to disappeared in The Netherlands making it possible for all to get together and have a good time. We've missed this, a lot. With the Mini FATJAM happening at the beginning of the year and the FATJAM somewhere at the end of August each year, the weather risk is certainly present. We had snow on Friday(!) but the trails certainly could you the moisture as the two weeks prior had been sunny and dry making it hard to shape the jumps the right way.
Come Saturday morning the trails were in excellent condition with no dust and no mud in sight. The temperature would not get above 6 (that's Celsius!) so you either had to ride to stay warm, or simply drink a lot. Riding was done constantly for 5 hours by riders lining up on the starting hill who could choose either line to get back in line for another run. The far left took the dare devils to the Killer Jump and the far right line had the biggest sets. In between another 4 lines were ready for action. It is awesome to see the Team NL riders line up with the youngsters, street riders and old schoolers. There was no pressure for anyone so everyone did what they wanted to do. Making it through (new) lines might be the challenge for some while doing tricks through the sets is the challenge for others. But the Mini FATJAM is more than that.
It had been six years since Red Bull put on a BMX event in The Netherlands. In 2013 Framed Reaction brought many pro park riders to Amsterdam and this time Uncontained invited 16 riders to come to Nijmegen. The course that was built was huge and extra practice was needed to get used to it. 2 teams were formed with Drew Bezanson and Daniel Wedemeijer being the team captains. Corey Walsh (CAN) and Mykel Larrin (USA) were injured and could not make it over to The Netherlands. Anthony Jeanjean (FRA) and Kieran Reilly (GBR) were their replacement riders. But there was still a week to go before the comp happened and on day one Tom Justice (GBR) overshot the big step up and hurt his ribs taking him out for a few days. Then Kieran Reilly knocked himself out during an Electric MX bike session and received 7 stitches in his head because of the crash. Morgan Wade (USA) arrived and crashed on a 720 on the step-up and broke his foot. Add to that Drew's situation of still recovering from a broken femur and then crashing on his head that left him with a swollen eye before the event event started.
The rough week didn't show when it was time to start the team contest on Saturday night. Red Bull turned the cold and desolate building into a booming disco with lights, bar, music, big screens and big ramps. With riders like Tom van den Bogaard, Ben Wallace, Jason Watts, Jake Leiva, Alex Coleborn,
If I would have nothing to do all day, no work, no family, I'm sure the Flame Trails would look a whole lot better. The dirt spot that is just around the corner practically has everything; a container to keep the tools, good dirt, electricity for music, a water pump and even a big light for evening sessions. Many of you would die for a spot like that and for good reason. It's heaven for a dirt rider to have a designated spot where you can create what you want with a shovel in your hand. The lines, the gaps, the rollers, the tables and the doubles, you can just build whatever you can dream up. And if you get bored, you just build something extra, go bigger, dig deeper or add an extra berm.
You'd expect local BMX-ers to take over a place like this and keep building but the die-hard dirt riders
Simple Session has always been a bit special for me personally. After doing a GT Air Show in Tartu, Estonia in 1999 where we inspired Risto and his buddies to start Simple Session, my first time back to the Baltic country was in 2004 for Simple Session number four. 15 years in a row I made it to Tallinn and the event keeps amazing me. It's the first big event of the 2018 calendar and brings people from all over to a country that we normally wouldn't visit, especially not in the wintertime. But that's also part of the beauty of the event. While in the Saku Suurhall, Vapiano or Hollywood, you don't sense it's freezing cold outside. The presence of BMX-ers and skateboarders in town makes Simple Session some sort of annual gathering where everyone catches up and prepares for the new season.
With 60 riders in Street and 44 in Park, this year's qualifying day was long. But when the good riding keeps coming there's no time to fall asleep. Bruno Hoffmann (Street) and Ryan Nyquist (Park) qualified in first. The top 12 in each discipline made it to the finals on Sunday. The actual course had one bigger street section with penty of rails that was used by most of the street riders. The surrounding transitions were used by park riders to go high, blast new tricks and to keep the speed up. In qualifying both park and street had a jam session in a group of 4 with each rider getting two 60 second runs on the course. Never a dull moment in each class with everyone pushing things to the limit for personal satisfaction or to impress the massive crowd in the Saku Suurhall.